The Big Picture Opening Night

So imagine that you are in an art gallery featuring an array of local UAE artists.

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You’re nibbling on canapes as you chat with your arty friends. Everything is pretty laid back and chilled out and you’re enjoying looking at all the impressive artwork. You turn to your left and BOOM!

Salvador Dali, The Horse Series,  Swan

Salvador Dali, The Horse Series, Swan

A Dali.

An ORIGINAL, honest-to-goodness Salvador Dali which is so close you can just reach out and touch it!

No need to go all the way to Barcelona to have this experience; it happened right here in Pro Art Gallery, Jumeirah on the opening night of The Big Picture on May the 5th.

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Curated by artist Ram Nath, The Big Picture is now in its second edition and is under the patronage of His Highness Shiekh Khalid Bin Mansour Al Thani.

As well as Dali, other legendary artists that were featured at the exhibition included Banksy, Picasso, Andy Warhol, Roy Liechtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol

Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol

Roy Lichtenstein, Cow Going Abstract

Roy Lichtenstein, Cow Going Abstract

All their original works were exhibited side by side with 45 local artists from the UAE. The best part was there were no walls or barriers separating the legends from the contemporaries.

Vahid Danaiefar, untitled 2, Oil on board,

Vahid Danaiefar, untitled 2, Oil on board,

Luis Vazquez, The Path of the Foxes, Acrylic on Canvas

Luis Vazquez, The Path of the Foxes, Acrylic on Canvas

Kevin Badni, Big head, Sculpture

Kevin Badni, Big head, Sculpture

“The idea of including internationally renowned legends and UAE based artists supported the main goals of The Big Picture, which is to demolish any boundaries or categorization that may limit the artists or their thought processes.” Nath explains.

The exhibition has alot of diversity as it explores multifaceted artistic creations featuring painting, photography, sculpture, digital art, performance art, installation as well as sound and video arts, by emerging and established artists.

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The gallery was packed with an assortment of art aficionados soaking up the atmosphere.

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The interesting part about this exhibition was it had a highly personal touch as there was an audio guide available.

It allowed the viewer to wander around at his/her own pace with headphones on and listen to each artist talk about their themes and inspirations behind their pieces.

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The energy was infectious and the talent was indeed awe-inspiring.

Reem Albanna, Hazy Reality, Oil on Canvas

Reem Albanna, Hazy Reality, Oil on Canvas

Zoya Tariq, Imprisoned in a mistaken identity, Photography

Zoya Tariq, Imprisoned in a mistaken identity, Photography

Eduardo Yup, Face the Reality, Acrylic on fiber matt

Eduardo Yup, Face the Reality, Acrylic on fiber matt

Resurger, Liberty 2, Screen print,

Resurger, Liberty 2, Screen print,

Aleksandar Bezinovic, Annunciation, Acrylic on Canvas

Aleksandar Bezinovic, Annunciation, Acrylic on Canvas

Here are a couple of photos of my work at the exhibition …

My work at the gallery

Free as a Bird, acrylic on board,

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Thanks to The Big Picture, someday I can brag to my future grandkids that I was featured in the same exhibition as Picasso!

If you have not seen it yet, you’d best skedaddle as the exhibition continues until the 24th of May!

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Chanel Cruise Show Illustrations

Just incase you have been living under a rock and hadn’t heard – the Chanel Cruise Fall show took place in Dubai recently.

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It was held on an exclusive luxurious island just off the coast which was made JUST for the occasion.

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If my tone appears to read tinged with an ever-so-slight tone of bitterness, it’s because I AM still rather sore I did not attend. (super exclusive invite only!)

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Oh well! I’m over it!! All is fair in love and fashion 🙂

Now that I’ve got my emotional trauma behind me (!) Let’s talk about the collection …

The level of luxury and opulence at this show reminded me a lot of Karl Lagerfeld’s interpretation of India is his pre fall 2012 collection. (One of my favorites!)

Similarly, this one was also very lavish and plush but with a very sophisticated 1001-Nights/ Arabesque twang to it.

I liked the contemporary tailoring contrasted with the fluid billowing shapes such as the harem pants and elegant flowing tunics with ethnic shoes. Tres Aladdin!

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The signature tweed textures made cameos, both in light variations and more stronger monochrome tones. I was particularly enchanted by the folksier prints in sheer chiffon kaftans. I also loved the tribal embroidered fabric (Bedouin inspired, perhaps?)

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It wasn’t all soft and demure, though. For instance, I appreciated the odd lamé metallic trouser thrown into the mix; unexpected and added edge!

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MOST of ALL I loved those AWESOME bejewelled moons.

They added such a wonderful ethereal, exotic touch, especially paired with the models’ smouldering, sultry eye make up!

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The gorgeous fabrics and textures stirred up some creativity inside me. Here are some fashion illustrations I created of the show.

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Tahir Sultan salon show at the Cartel

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I must admit that when I shop for clothes, comfort is very low on my list of priorities!

It’s just that word – “comfort.” It often has a very unglamorous connotation that doesn’t quite appeal to me and I just end up thinking of hoodies and clumpy shoes.

Tahir Sultan’s brand new collection, however, is a game changer and proves that comfort and style CAN go hand in hand successfully!

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The Kuwaiti designer collaborated with urban conceptual boutique The Cartel on the 7th of May to showcase his collection for pre order. Before making a final decision on their orders, clients had a chance to see the outfits on the models in the flesh during an exquisite salon show, which was catered by Okku.

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The Cartel/Desert Fish is known for throwing great events with a terrific vibe. It’s always chic yet unpretentious. That night in particular was boisterous and spirited with an urban, youthful atmosphere. Quintessentially Cartel.

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As well as the fashion, the food was just flawless! Just LOOK at those seductive, delectable canapes. I thoroughly enjoyed giddily scoffing on the beef sushi and crispy sweet duck in the corner.

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I love Tahir’s sporty and sleek silhouettes in understated shades of greys, taupes and ecru.

The ensembles are beautifully draped as well as versatile; you could wear these to a fashion launch OR curled up with a hot chocolate on a rainy afternoon.

Marilyn Monroe once said “A girl’s clothes should be tight enough to show you’re a woman, but loose enough to show you are a lady.”

I can’t help but think that the designer’s new collection really embodies this wise and timeless philosophy. The pieces seem to skim flatteringly over certain areas, yet cinch and highlight the right ones such as the waist.

Tahir Sultan - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

Tahir Sultan - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

It ties mystery and modesty with an avant garde allure.

Comfort. Not so clumpy after all ….

Images courtesy of The Cartel

Abu Dhabi Book Fair

I was certainly a busy bee from the 30th to the 5th of May!

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This year, I had participated in the Abu Dhabi Book Fair to promote my work as a children’s book illustrator. I was also looking for potential publishers for my latest book project. (hint hint)

I was really impressed by how huge and well organised the fair was. The illustrator’s corner was situated RIGHT next to publishers so it was perfect for my ongoing pursuit!

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The fair is not just for sitting still in the corner in silent bookworm mode, though!

Infact, it was actually quite interactive and action packed! There were lots of seminars on the agenda everyday on various topics such as culture and tourism, book launches, career strategies and so forth.

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I noticed there was some artistic activities for children to participate in so there was something for everyone!

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I must admit, I got a little bit bored of sitting around acting prim and well behaved so I decided to paint my booth walls on the last day! I always wanted to do murals on the wall for children’s room so it was great practice for me to just go to town.

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I decided to paint a mermaid – I had always done mythical fashion illustration ones in the past, so for this one I wanted her to look child like, sweeter and more cherub-y (is that even a word?? haha!)

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Here’s how it turned out!

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Although Abu Dhabi is quite a trek for us native Dubaians, it’s well worth it and I highly recommend checking it out next year!

Alright Mr Demille, I’m ready for my close up.

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I’d just like to say that in terms of being camera shy … I was awkward wayyy before Kirsten Stewart made it cool.

I know you may be skeptical as it may not seem that way with the abundance of photos I take!! It’s different when taking a photo with a camera – I’m totally cool with that! Basically – when in doubt, the secret is to adopt a “Liz Hurley Stance”. You know the drill – your weight on one leg, which comes forward. Hand on hip. Coy, close lipped smile and bada bing, bada boom!!! You just can’t go wrong with that!

Being interviewed, however, is trickier but I found it an amazing experience all the same!

Last week I was approached by Abu Dhabi TV to be featured on their fashion programme, @Fashion.

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They were filming a special episode on the art of fashion and wanted to interview me about my fashion illustrations and talk about my art blog and live drawing. I was so thrilled to oblige and the best part was illustrating live in front of a camera which they would turn into a speed painting for the programme.

One part of the experience I really took to immediately was having my make up and hair done. There’s nothing better than bouncy hair and curled lashes!!! I’m quite picky with make up, but my make up artist did an amazing job creating a slightly more dramatic yet polished look. He used Bassam Fattouh cosmetics to get the desired look. I haven’t ever used these products, but I definitely am hooked and will go back for more! I was particularly impressed with the awesome eyebrow pencil which is the perfect shade of soft brown!!!!

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The interview took place at trendy and spacious A4 Space, situated in Al Serkal Avenue. I just love how open and sophisticated it is, and I particularly adore the inspirational messages on the walls.

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I always thought on TV, the crew do quite a few takes before deciding on the final cut. The surprising thing about this interview was it was done in only one take! The producer, Georges Estephan, wanted a really natural and spontaneous dialogue with the gorgeous TV presenter, Rulan Omari. It was completely unrehearsed, candid and really nice and raw!!!

The interview itself was really breezy, but I had to do a brief solo introduction so if I seem terrified, that is because…er…I WAS!!! haha!!!

A truly wonderful day and I am really looking forward to watching it live on Abu Dhabi TV in approximately one week!!! I can’t wait to see how the final segment turned out all put together with all the other artists/designers. Yayy!! 🙂 Here’s some photos from that day!

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Fashion Forward Frolics – Part 2

Essa Walla’s show was wonderfully outrageous and truly audacious!

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Provocatively entitled “Blow,” his collection featured plenty of acid bright colours, statement prints, furs and plenty of interesting frou-frou details. I loved the ostrich feather embellishments mixed with beadwork that sparkled in the spotlight.

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The eclectic combination of textures were so unexpected and constantly kept us guessing.

Although it was a very daring and bold, there’s no doubt that there was a pinch of feminine romanticism (i.e the floor sweeping hemlines and hourglass-enhancing silhouettes) but it was unconventional femininity.

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Essa - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

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Oversized sunglasses, vintage 50’s shapes and trippy combinations – think Jackie O on LSD.

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Beautiful simplicity with a sporty, sleek twist is what sprung to my mind when describing Tahir Sultan’s collection.

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His experimental use of jersey created some very versatile draped pieces ranging from floaty maxi dresses to more structured, slick ensembles. I love the striped patterned fabrics, the “50 shades of grey” colour scheme and the simple pearl adornments for a touch of understated elegance.

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Sultan has successfully combined function with design by creating wearable pieces that are soft yet stylish – whoever said practicality has to be unsophisticated?

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Zareena’s collection was very regal with Eastern influences. The embroideries and embellishments were multi layered, ornate and refined and the silhouettes ranged from graceful and flowing to sculptural and dramatic.

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Paired with the most strikingly theatrical hairstyles, a few of her gorgeous outfits almost looked like they were from a different time and would make wonderful costumes for a fantasy film of some sort.

Having said that, quite a few pieces offered alot of coverage so they were very modest and could even be worn over the abaya just like designer herself had demonstrated.

Regionally appropriate and frankly, quite marvellous.

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Zareena - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

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To attend Amato’s show, one needs to be strong and merciless. This is because the queue for his sensational shows can get SO overwhelming. In fact, people START lining up for his show forty minutes in advance. With the huddles of people pushing and shoving, it’s like fighting a herd of aggressively bossy and highly determined sheep.

It’s survival of the fittest.

A full house crowd at the Amato show

A full house crowd at the Amato show

But just like all things in life, if the bitter ain’t bitter, the sweet ain’t as sweet.

And I assure you, it his shows are ALWAYS pretty “sweet.”

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Courtesy of Getty Images

This season was no exception. The designer was inspired by the conquests of Alexander the Great and his travels in Persia, India and Egypt.

The collection was exotic, rich and bejewelled and he enticed us all with the combination of sumptuous colours – ruby reds, emeralds and sapphire blues.

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The outfits were made from French lace and tulle, all embellished in sequins, swarovski crystals and plenty of flowers.

I loved the amazing gold tribal jewellery he used to cover the models’ faces, lending an element of Eastern mystery as they strutted grandiosely down the runway.

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Amato By Furne One - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

Amato By Furne One - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

See, I told you! Good things come to those who wait.

I assure you, this is worth the wait.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Interview with couture designer Rami Kadi

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Continuing from my last blog post, here is my exclusive interview with Lebanese couture designer Rami Kadi.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

The woman I design for is a woman living a normal life in today’s world, but who stands out with her elegance and grace. She has something about her that turns head wherever she goes, leaving a trail of seduction and mystery behind. she’s a woman who blows life into the garment she is wearing.

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What are your favorite fabrics to work with and where are they sourced from?

My choice of materials/fabrics depends on both the trend and my mood, and is not specifically limited to one type of material.


The silhouettes of your couture pieces are to be marveled at. Are the constructions of such a great challenge?

Of course it is a challenge. If I don’t challenge myself I will never evolve. In fact, it is essential for my pieces to have great cuts, it is a part of my signature.

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How do you decide on your theme for each collection? Do they all have a story to tell?

In terms of creativity and inspiration, the world around me has always been a rich source of inspiration; it provides me with flashes of creativity all day long, from the moment I wake until I go to bed, and sometimes even in my dreams.

Anything can be inspiring, the music I listen to while I’m driving, interaction with people, when I’m relaxing at the beach, or reading magazines, watching other designers fashion shows, etc.

Another major source of inspiration is obtained while traveling, visiting new countries and getting acquainted with new cultures and fashion salons…

Inspiration is not only limited to my day-to-day activities, it can also be found in my dreams! I always dream about dresses or shapes and I wake up in the middle of night to draw them, and go back to sleep.
Each of my collection has a specific story and it is from that story that emerges the whole collection.

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As an example my latest collection tells the story of a sleeping beauty who wakes up from an ever long sleep and finds her self within the confines of a sumptuous castle. It is with mixed feelings of surprise, and astonishment that the gracious princess walks through the aisles of the palace, and discovers a place glowing with royal opulence and yet holding an air of modernity.

How are your feelings towards exhibiting at Dubai’s Fashion Forward this year?

I am really excited to present my new collection there, especially that it is taking place in the big hall that seats about 1000 people. It is always an accomplishment when I get to the point of the runway show.

Your collections often have some very strong fairytale elements to it. What intrigues you about fairytales in particular?

I have always loved fairytales. They leave so much place for imagination and creativity. There are so many fabrics that can be used around the theme to express the romance, the magic and most of all the royal feel.

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If you could choose any historical figure, factual or legend, from the likes of Cleopatra to Lady Godiva, to be the face of your new collection who would it be and why?

I would go for The queen of Burlesque, Dita Von Teese, an artist who masters the art of seduction and whose fashionism and attitude captivated me long ago. There’s something about Dita that glows with elegance and captivates everyone around her. She is the kind of women who turns heads wherever she goes.

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Rami Kadi - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

Rami Kadi - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

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Fashion Forward Frolics – Part 1

Fashion is the art
Designers are the gods
Models play the part of angels in the dark
Which one of you would ever dare to go against
That beauty is a trade and everyone is paid

Season 3 of Fashion Forward finally kicked off today at Madinat Jumeirah for press and public.

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Outfit of the day - Dee by Dalia skirt paired with a Versace belt and quirky telephone bag

Outfit of the day – Dee by Dalia skirt paired with a Versace belt and quirky telephone bag

It was all very rock n’ roll chic at the Kage show with wild teased hair, dark lips, Bardot necklines and the odd flash of metallic. It definitely had a young, vibrant and vivacious feel.

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Kage - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

Intriguingly, the collection took inspiration from a specific time and event – New Years Eve, 1983 to be exact! What I really loved was the general grungy-ness broken up with baby blues, gorgeous geometric details and metallic accents.

My favorite were these two outfits. I just love the rich, opulent, oriental print and how the fabric is repeated in the peter pan collars – great sense of continuity! I like how they are edgy yet pulled together!

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The Emperor 1688 featured a tasteful and sophisticated collection. I loved their interpretation of classic English tailoring and contemporary take on Scottish tweed, wool and tartan.

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I was particularly captivated by the fur capes and the belted trench coats in this unique, rich buttery shade.

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I also liked the idea of leather harnesses over floaty ethereal dresses. It’s the perfect balance of androgynous yet feminine.

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The combination of prim bow ties, textures and their very British/Burberry-esque aesthetic – it kind of had a sexy Sherlock Holmes vibe goin’ on! Don’t you agree?

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Fictional ice queen Miranda Priestly was famously quoted for her bitchy dig in “Devils Wears Prada” where she says sarcastically says “Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking (!)”

Well, I’m certain Jean Louis Sabaji’s innovative treatment of florals would make even Miranda Priestly sit up and take notice, for their collection proved that flowers CAN be inventive as well as fresh.

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Bursting with skill, handcrafted techniques were used to mimic foilage, organic textures and petals in bloom.

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Very magical. Very mythical. Very “Midsummer Nights Dream.”

I liked the ombre effects on the gowns in particular and the voluminous blush-pink rose gown was definitely a favorite of mine.

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Finally, day one closed with the Ezra Couture show. His designs are known for their buoyant, diaphanous and exquisite edge. The designer is even getting popular in Hollywood, with celebrities frequently wearing his stunning designs on the red carpet.

Starting off with soft alluring pastel hues, his collection gradually got bolder, featuring shades of sapphire with statement armour inspired pieces that sparkled in the light.

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The chiffon had such an amazing drape and the fabric was so light and airy that it almost seemed to DANCE behind the models mischievously and seductively like the flicker of a flame.

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Everyone was totally spellbound, enjoying the show – and JUST when we thought it couldn’t get any more spectacular …

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It snowed.

It was SO magnificent and the bridal wear looked so poetic and pure. We found ourselves in a winter wonderland in the middle of April.

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I watched, amazed and astounded … like a dreamer in a dream.

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Middle East Film & Comic Con 2014

#ootd - "Alice through the looking glass"   Costume rented from Dark Horse Event Management

#ootd – “Alice through the looking glass”
Costume rented from Dark Horse Event Management

I can’t explain how extraordinarily bizarre it is to have a gorilla wearing a shell-bikini tap you on the shoulder and politely ask if he may take a photo with you.

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It’s MAD. Absolutely mad.

But as Cheshire Cat quite rightly says “We’re ALL mad, here.”

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I think this statement sums up Middle East Film & Comic Con perfectly! A bit like “The Muppet show,” it’s weird, it’s wonderful and above all … it’s unpredictable – absolutely ANYTHING can happen.

One minute you are having a delightful conversation with The Grim Reaper about the weather.

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The next – you are interrupted by a collection of monsters dancing to Gangam Style!

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It’s a place where you can enjoy catching up with old friends ….

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and make a few new ones!!!!!

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I finally found white rabbit ...

I finally found white rabbit …

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Meanwhile, in the corner … an Arab looking Mario and Luigi getting up to all sorts of tomfoolery.

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Yep!!! It’s just a normal day here! Totes legit.

Mind you, I was no better … don’t you LOVE my new bazooka?!

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As well as the costumes, it’s a great place to browse through the creme de la creme of limited edition comic books, rare anime and manga memorabilia. You can spend all day here oohing and aahing over the impressive array of graphic collectibles.

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You can even mosey around casually donning a cape (and no, I don’t mean an Anna Wintour style “cape” coat, I mean, a CAPE cape). Duh.

If you’re lucky you might even spot a celeb or two from your favorite TV series. (LUCKY being the key word…I was GUTTED I missed Seth Green!)

FINALLY! You can leave the stressful world outside and let your cheeky neon streaked hair down to come out and play by getting your “game” on (literally).

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No Judgement. Just games.

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My FAVORITE part of the day was seeing the cute little kiddies in their adorable costumes. I always wanted to run away and be a disney princess at Orlando. Now I know what it feels like to be one …

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I urge you to join us at the next comic con. Loosen up that tie and fall down the rabbit hole ….

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You won’t be sorry.

Playing Dress up at Dark Horse Event Management

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This Saturday afternoon, I plan to venture where NO fashion blogger has EVER gone before ….

The Middle East Film and Comic Con, that’s where!!!!

For three days, the world trade center is transformed into a wonderfully weird and and magical land full of limited edition comics, anime, manga and gaming!

Although we often jest that Comic Con is solely for geeks, I have to say – I beg to differ.

I went last year, and I found it really creative – ESPECIALLY the outfits! I think it’s wonderful how everyone makes such a huge effort with costumes. Last year, I looked wistfully and enviously at everyone else’s amazing ensembles. They ranged from classic superman get-ups to retro super-nes characters…I even spotted a few Japanese lolita cosplay outfits! It was AMAZING.

Alas!! It would be a waste for me to purchase an outfit that flamboyant just for this occasion. After all, I don’t go to conventions like this very often (shocking I know!)

What I NEEDED was a costume “fairy godmother” …

Well, I found one …. In the form Dark Horse Event Management…

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They are the largest creative production & entertainment house in the Middle East and they organise various events, PR and marketing activities for brands and clients, as well as providing a unique brand of entertainment.

As well as this, they also offer costume rentals for fabulous prices!!!

SORTED!

When I found out about this, I dared by art blogger BFF Danna from dannawrites.com to come join me to play dress up!!! Being the gutsy woman that she is, she accepted my challenge (much to my delight!) Even though comic con is predominantly about comics…as far as costumes go, anything goes …

Let the games begin!

We started off innocently enough, just trying on a few hats. Something subtle to warm us up …

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That Danna! Honestly, I don’t know why she insists on ruffling feathers …

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Here she is again, looking like an extra from The Lion King.

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This…Is….SPARTA.

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I experimented with the Mad Hatter look, whilst Danna opted for the “sexy zebra” (The actual description..which really intrigued us)

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Let them eat cake.

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twins

If Marie Antoinette was a Dubai blogger, this is would be her #ootd pose.

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We then felt the urge to partake in a dance.

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Here’s Dana as a regal White Queen.

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It all got a bit stressful for her, so she took a few minutes to do some serious reflecting …

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OFF with YOUR head.

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That about wraps up our bizarre-yet-brilliant fashion show. If you are ever in a dire need for costumes, I’d highly recommend to pay Dark Horse a visit. As you can plainly see, their handmade costumes are highly unique with their gorgeous little details and they obviously have a huuuuuuge variety, as we’ve demonstrated!

Can you guess what I will be dressed up as?

Hint! I will be chasing a little white rabbit …

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What do you know? I guess blondes DO have more fun!